The U.S. government’s sluggish rollout of updated COVID-19 booster shots is getting a leg up from the men’s national soccer team.

Thanks to a partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman appears in a new PSA encouraging vaccination with the updated COVID shot.

“Best way to tackle COVID? A booster,” says Zimmerman in the 16-second spot. “Boosters protect you from COVID’s worst possible outcomes.” 

The ad and team-up were first reported by Axios

Continuing to provide support for public health messaging is critical as the nation endures lingering challenges related to COVID and a lower-than-expected vaccination rate.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 12% of Americans aged 5 and up have received the new bivalent jab as of this week. That pales in comparison to a much larger share of people who have completed their primary vaccination series. 

USMNT began placing the promotional video on its official social media feed Friday, playing it up with cheeky lines like, “Keep COVID on the sidelines” and “Strengthen your defense.” 

At press time, the video had garnered more than 11,000 views. 

The effort is part of HHS’ ongoing “We Can Do This” public education campaign, designed to increase confidence in the COVID vaccines. The soccer collaboration follows a previous HHS partnership with MLB, which aired PSAs during the 2022 World Series to encourage viewers to get vaccinated.

Giving the middling booster effort a boost is a key priority for the Biden administration as the nation enters its third winter during the ongoing pandemic. 

In October, the White House unveiled a series of initiatives aimed at increasing the updated bivalent vaccination statistics — including video ads that target specific patient populations like Latino, Black and rural communities.
The PSA debuted just ahead of USMNT’s next match in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, set for Saturday against the Netherlands. The U.S. side advanced out of the group stage and secured a berth in the Round of 16 by beating Iran on Tuesday 1-0.